The RainCoast Orchid Recovery Project started in 2013 when one of our sons, a physician, brought us two post bloom phalaenopsis orchids that his patients had given him. Thinking that our past success growing tomatoes and other vegetables on our experimental farm was relevant experience for growing orchids he left them on our doorstep with a note which read “try to make them rebloom or, failing that, toss them on the compost pile”.
We had no experience growing orchids, knew nothing about these plants, and were totally naïve as to what we’d be getting into. Aside from our lack of knowledge or experience our geography is far from ideal for growing warm loving tropical plants. We are located on the Olympic Peninsula in northwestern Washington State, not far from the Canadian border. A highly regulated environment of temperature, light, and humidity would have to be provided if we had any hope of success.
One of our greenhouses was equipped with a computer controlled heating system and it was programmed to provide a 20-25 degree temperature change every 12 hours. Reading the literature led us to mix up a suitable orchid growing media of 85% fir bark, 10-15% perlite, and 0-2% charcoal. The two orchids were removed from their original containers and the medium disposed of, the roots trimmed and dead roots removed, and the plants repotted in fresh media. They were kept in the greenhouse under low light conditions, watered weekly and fed every 2-3 weeks. Within 3 months, much to our surprise, new flower spikes could be seen growing vertically from the apex of the top leaves. Approximately 2 months later the plants were in full bloom.
Neighbors, friends and acquaintances hearing about our success reblooming phalaenopsis orchids began to bring over their non-blooming orchids and gave them to us hoping we could make their recalcitrant plants rebloom. Soon we were overwhelmed with orchids; phalaenopsis as well as cymbidiums, oncidiums, miltonias, and cattleyas. All orchid orphans were welcome.
Word continued to spread and the Orchid Recovery Project at RainCoast Orchids was growing so fast that adequate space to contain the collection was at a premium. In order to contain the space requirements for the growing collection, recovered plants were donated to a local hospital, physicians offices, hospice programs, and to anyone recovering from an illness or accident.
Phalaenopsis, oncidiums and cymbidium orchids have been donated and all show a remarkable ability to recover to their full and original beauty.
As of October, 2016 over 750 plants have been donated by local citizens to the project and so far approximately 250 have found a new home with recovering patients or in hospital locations. Additional donated plants (orchids only) are needed in order for the program to continue.
To donate your plant to the Orchid Recovery Project send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with delivery or shipping instructions.